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In Houston, Texas, a city recently devastated by COVID-19, Dr. Joseph Varon, chief medical officer of United Memorial Medical Center, says it’s like he's fighting a war on two fronts.
"A war against COVID and a war against stupidity. And the problem is that the first one I have some hope about winning. But the second one is becoming more and more difficult to treat. Why do I say that? Because people are not listening. Whether it's backed up by science or just plain old common sense, people are not listening throughout the country."
New coronavirus cases have soared in southern states like Texas.
So far in July, the state has more than doubled its cases to over 400,000. Deaths surged by 32% in the last week alone.
Dr. Varon, who specializes in lung and critical care, just doesn't understand why he's seeing so many people walking around without a face covering.
His frustration grows as he oversees his hospital's dedicated COVID-19 unit, where he tends to an average of 40 patients a day.
And last week he signed more death certificates than at any other point in his career.
"It's interesting because, you know, I have been in the middle of earthquakes, in the middle of bombings, in the middle of tsunamis. I've been involved in every possible catastrophe that you can imagine. And by far, this is the worst. And this is the worst because this is a continuous situation. The other ones, you know, something bad happens and then you run, you take care of things and that's it. Here continues to occur. And what is probably the most disappointing thing, the thing that annoys me the most is that we keep on doing our best to save all these people, and then you get another batch of people that are doing exactly the opposite of what you are telling them not to do."
And now the constant influx of new cases has put the health of his own staff at risk.
Christina Mathers, a nurse on Varon's team, is now suddenly a patient.
"I wasn't feeling too good towards the end of the shift, so I let Dr. Varon know and he was like, you need to get to the E.R. and they told me I was positive. That's the hardest thing to ever hear is that you're positive."
There may be some good news finally headed to the over-worked doctors and nurses at Texas-area hospitals. The virus appears to be easing in the south, White House Coronavirus Task Force coordinator Deborah Birx told Fox News on Thursday. But now it is shifting upwards towards the Midwest…
The reason according to Dr. Birx - because of vacations and other reasons of travel.
To those living where the virus is heading and where there may still be debates on whether to mask-up or not, Nurse Mathers has this plea from her hospital bed:
“Myself as a medical person, people just need to stop and listen to us. We're not going to lie. Why would we lie?"